Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘teens

I’ve recently finished reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (the first in a series, next is Catching Fire and Mockingjay comes out at the end of August).  I was surprisingly impressed by the book.  I had heard really good things about it, but I had no idea that it focused on a strong, self-sufficient 16-year-old girl.

The Hunger Games takes place in a the future in the continent of North America, but the country is now referred to as Panem.  Panem is made up of 12 districts surrounding the Capitol (which, from the sounds of it, seems to be around the Denver area).  Katniss is from the 12th district, the poorest of them all and she comes the poor part of district 12.  She has to provide for both her mother and her little sister.  She does this by hunting illegally in the woods around the district — she can shoot an arrow through the eye of any animal (because then it doesn’t waste any meat.  Every year, the Capitol hosts the Hunger Games as a way to remind the districts of their control over them.  A boy and a girl between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from each district to participate and fight each other to the death to declare themselves the victors of the Hunger Games.

Katniss’ sister, Prim, is originally selected as the female sacrifice tribute for her district, but Katniss volunteers herself, not wanting to see her 12-year-old sister put through that.  Katniss and her fellow district 12 tribute, Peeta, have to learn how to fight within the arena.  It’s as much of a competition of survival as it is of fighting.  But it becomes very obvious from the beginning that the Capitol and the Gamemakers like to exert their control over the tributes as a way of making sure that all the districts stay in line.  Katniss is well aware of this so she is able to outsmart and out-maneuver them.  You’ll have to read the book if you want to find out more about what happens specifically.

I liked this book on multiple levels.  First of all, it was a science fiction/futuristic teen book that did not revolve around vampires.  It had an original storyline that kept me interested.  It was not just a book about these Hunger Games, but about government control and living in a society with little personal freedom.

Secondly, I loved that the main character was a teenage girl.  Katniss is a girl that doesn’t trust many people because she has had to fend for herself for most of her life.  Her trust doesn’t come easy.  She can take care of her family by hunting, which is traditionally something that we see men doing in pop culture (just so you know, her hunting companion is male).  It becomes clear right from the beginning, and even more so once the Hunger Games begin, that Katniss is smart, strong, loyal, and yet compassionate.

One thing that I did not like about the storyline was that Katniss and Peeta’s mentor thrust them into a “fake” romantic relationship in order to gain public support within the Games.  I thought that it kept the storyline interesting and romantic relationships are something that a lot of teens will be interested in seeing int he books that they read.  It was important for Katniss’ character development for her to be able to trust Peeta with her life as well as admit that she needed help.  But I didn’t really like that Katniss needed Peeta in order to survive.  Towards to the end, it became very apparent that it was actually Peeta that needed Katniss.  However, their relationship just kind of felt wrong because I felt like it was bringing Katniss down from her full potential.  As with most storylines, there are negatives and positives though.

I was very pleasantly surprised to see that The Hunger Games was all about a teenage girl.  I have to admit that I didn’t really know a whole lot about the book before I started reading it.  I didn’t even know that it centered on a teenage girl.  I think that this would be a great book for teenage girls as opposed to something like Twilight, where the main girl is so emotionally as well as physically dependent on a guy.


glee-episode8-pic7In this week’s episode, Finn and Quinn aren’t popular anymore because of their involvement with glee club and, of course, they aren’t happy about this.  On top of that, the football players are made to choose between football and glee club.  Puck decides that he needs to start dating Rachel because his mother wants him to date a nice Jewish girl.  Rachel goes for it as a way to make Finn jealous…and Puck really just wants to make Quinn jealous too.  Finn chooses the football team over glee club because he really wants to be popular even though the three other football players, including Puck, chose glee club.  But Will convinces Finn to come back by telling him that glee is where he belongs.

In other news, Emma and Ken have decided to have their wedding in Hawaii and Ken has conviced Emma to have a first dance.  They ask Will to make a mash-up between “I Could Have Danced All Night” (Emma’s choice) and “The Thong Song” (Ken’s choice) as well as dance lessons.  Ken calls Will out on his relationship with Emma and says that he knows that he’ll always be second place to Will but he loves Emma so much that he doesn’t care.  Will ends up going wedding dress shopping with Emma to make sure that she gets a dress she can dance in and they, of course, dance around the wedding shop and sing “I Could Have Danced All Night.”

First of all, when Will sang “Bust a Move” at the beginning, I found it a little creepy.  Singing “I want to sex you up” while dancing with teenage girls (and boys) was kind of creepy.  But Will definitely got a lot of dancing time in this episode.  It made me wonder if it was actually him dancing all the time because it was pretty impressive dancing…at least coming from me who is not a great dancer.

Finn and Quinn’s popularity storyline is just yet another example of the “be who you want to be and screw everyone else” storyline that is being exhausted by this show.  It seems like every episode has that message.  While it is a great message, I’d like to see some variety.  Having to choose between football and glee club also had the same effect, especially in Will’s speech to Finn.

I really like Sue’s storyline this episode.  She goes on a date with the news anchor on the show that she does Sue’s Corner for and starts to really like him.  It seems to soften her…a lot.  She gets will to teach her how to swing dance for another date with the man and seems kind of sweet towards him.  But when she finds out that the news anchor is kind of a jerk (she caught him making out with someone else and him excuse was that he couldn’t be caged in), she becomes mean again — she’s mean to Will and kicks Quinn off of the Cherrios because she’s pregnant.  I think this storyline spoke a lot to Sue as a person and why she is the way that she is.  Her hostility towards others comes from a place of not wanting to be hurt herself.

I really hated the storyline between Will and Emma.  Yes, we all know that they both like each other.  I was glad that Terry wasn’t in the episode because I really dislike the characterization of her.  The writers just wanted to make her seem as unbearable as possible so that the audience would think it was ok when Will cheats on her with Emma (because we all know that’s going to happen).  But it’s not ok.  It’s ok if Will leaves Terry for Emma.  Everyone is entitled to end a marriage if they don’t think it’s working.  But the way that the show characterizes both Terry and Emma to make Will less of a bad guy for ending a marriage to be with another woman is kind of sickening.

I also kind of liked the storyline between Puck and Rachel.  You got to see a sweeter side of Puck, which doesn’t always happen.  And he got to sing a solo.  We all know that the relationship wouldn’t work out because they were both in it for the wrong reasons and both loved someone else, but it was nice to see them together, even for a little while, because they are so different.

And yet again, the minority characters are reduced to background.  Mercedes had a couple lines and so did Kurt, but that was about it.  I did really like when Kurt stood up to Finn, though.  When Finn picked football over the glee club, the other players made him give a “slushie facial” (throwing a slushie in someone’s face — it happened a lot this episode) to Kurt, who quit football.  Finn didn’t want to do it because he’s friends with Kurt but felt he had to to fit in with the football players again.  Kurt knew this and ended up throwing the slushie in his own face and challenged Finn to think about if any of his “friends” on the football team would have done that for him.  But then we have to be reminded of the fact that Kurt is gay when he freaks out about having the slushie all over him and needs to “get to a spa” (aka the girls bathroom).

Overall, I think this episode was pretty good.  I enjoyed what seemed like an increase in the musical numbers, which are usually my favorite parts of the episode.  I wasn’t cringing around every corner like I have with previous episodes.  That’s not to say that there was nothing wrong with this episode, I’m just saying that I enjoyed watching it.

Also make sure to check out meloukhia’s review up at this ain’t livin’.

e115f1943eb6e99ca78eeea64299ca5aThe case that Bones and Booth were investigating in “The Plain in the Prodigy” was the death of an Amish teenage boy who was on his Rumspringa (the time period where Amish teenagers leave the community to determine if they want to enter general society or become baptized as an adult into the Amish church).  The team discovers that Levy, the teenager who was killed, was a piano prodigy when playing musical instruments is forbidden in the Amish community and he was using his Rumspringa to determine if his love of music was strong enough to consider leaving his faith.

The main side-story in this episode revolved around Cam and her adoptive teenage (I think 16) daughter, Michelle.  Cam believes that Michelle is having sex with her boyfriend and doesn’t really know what to do about it.  Cam doesn’t think that Michelle should be having sex but doesn’t know how to talk to Michelle about it.  Angela tells her that it’s completely natural for teenagers to be having sex.  Cam eventually tells Michelle that she doesn’t think that she should be having sex and Michelle gets mad and says that Cam isn’t her mom so she can’t tell her what to do.  But of course, they make up by the end of the episode.  And they have a good discussion about what it means to wait and what it means to have sex.  I was really glad they had this conversation.  Michelle talked about how her boyfriend wants to have sex but isn’t pressuring her and that she’s scared and Cam does a great job at having a healthy discussion rather than just saying “don’t have sex.”  Bones and Booth also have a discussion about it in which Booth brings up a double standard about boys having sex at 16 and girls having sex at 16.  I was not surprised that Booth had this opinion.  Bones of course calls him out on the double standard.

I really liked how this episode was all about teenage exploration and experimentation.  We saw two examples of an Amish Rumspringa, that of Levi and another Amish boy.  Levi was using his Rumspringa to explore his love of music while the other boy was using it to experiment with alcohol, drugs, and sex.  And then we see Michelle who is experimenting with her sexuality.  I really appreciated seeing these different aspects of teenage lives and approaching these issues in a realistic and healthy way.

Can I just say how much I love Angela.  Not only does she promote a healthy view of sexuality, especially teenage sexuality, she talks about how women want sex just as much as men so they shouldn’t assume that Michelle’s boyfriend is pressuring her into it.  She talks about how the only really important things in this situation is that having sex is something that Michelle wants to do (and her boyfriend wants to do) and that they are safe.  Right on.  And I really have liked seeing more of Angela’s talents this season.  More responsibility has been given to her in terms of figuring out the evidence on computers, video, pictures, etc. and it’s great to see some of her actual skills in this arena.

I also appreciated that the representation of the Amish in the episode did not turn into a joke.  There are so many jokes about the Amish and about their lifestyle because people don’t really understand it.  But Bones being the person that she is approached the Amish as a culture of their own (which they are) and honored their culture and tradition.  I did not feel as if they took the Amish culture lightly and that the show actually tried to accurately represent their culture (not that I know a lot about their culture, but I am just guessing).

I have mixed feelings about Booth’s tendency towards over-protectiveness.  On the one hand, I think that it’s nice that he cares so much about the people in his life.  On the other hand, they can take care of themselves.  He definitely threatened Michelle’s boyfriend at the end of the episode with the whole “I’m a sniper.  If you hurt Michelle, I’ll hurt you” thing.  I thought it was kind of amusing though when he said “Michelle’s like family.  I’m her favorite uncle.” and he boyfriend says, “really? She’s never mentioned you.”  It definitely spoke to how overprotective he is and how he brings himself into the lives of those around him.  I just didn’t really think that scene was necessary.

And bonus, there wasn’t a whole lot of awkwardness between Bones and Booth this episode as the writers try to figure out how to handle their relationship, which was very welcome.

This episode was a lot better than last week‘s for me, which I was very happy about.  I feel like it was back in form last night.  Also check out meloukhia’s review/analysis up at this ain’t livin’.

I’m really glad that Miley Cryus is continuing her break from Disney with this new music video for “Party in the USA” (note: same song to which she pole-danced at the Teen Choice Awards).  Please note the sarcasm.  And I’m also really glad that I am now aquainted with Miley Cyrus’ bra and cleavage.

As this is my first post about a weekly television series, I wanted to explain how this is going to work.  Every week, a day or two after a television show (this will mostly be for Glee, Bones, and Dollhouse), I will have a post about the episode.  I will start off each post with a brief recap of the show (I’m not too good at recaps, but we’ll see how it goes) which we be followed by my analysis.GLEE

The series premiere of Glee was last night (Wednesday, Sept. 9).  It was technically the series premiere even though the pilot has been previously aired.  The pilot aired back in May as a way to build excitement about the show and was aired again last Wednesday.

Glee is musical comedy/drama about a high school glee club.  Here is a run-down of some of the major characters: Will Schuester (played by Matthew Morrison) is a high school Spanish teacher who takes over the failing glee club as a way to relive his glory days of high school.  Rachel Berry (played by Lea Michele) is an ambitious member of this glee club who thinks she’s the best thing ever.  Finn Hudson (played by Cory Monteith) is a football star who is conned into joining the glee club but ends up loving it.  Sue Sylvester (played by the brilliant Jane Lynch) is the cheer coach who is hell-bent on bringing down the glee club.

Now time for what happened in the series premiere: “Showmance.”  In this episode, the glee club is getting ready for their first performance in front of the student body.  Will has the club prepare a disco song that none of them want to sing because they find it embarassing.  Rachel is developing a crush on Finn and tries to resort to bulemia to make herself more attractive.  Emma (the guidence counselor who has a really big germ phobia) tries to talk to her about these feelings, but it seems to be more or a way to have Emma fantasize about Will (whom she has a crush on).  In the meantime, Will’s wife throws a fit because they can’t afford the perfect, oversize house.  I find her really annoying.  Will ends up taking a night time janitorial job instead of his wife picking up more hours even though she only works 15 hours a week.

The celibacy club.  Oh, the celibacy club.  “It’s all about the teasing, not about the pleasing.”  That’s the motto of the girls.  The guys just make jokes.  Finn’s girlfriend is the president of the club (and also the cheer captain).  Rachel joins the celibacy club as a way to get closer to Finn, but gets fed up and promotes sex education (woo!) and says that girls want sex just as much as guys.  From this Rachel gets to idea to “sexify” the glee club performance at the assembly by performing “Push It” and new dance moves.

This, of course, goes over really well with the students, but the cheerleading coach, Sue, objects because she wants to bring down the glee club (but it’s never really explained why she wants to bring it down).  The principal likes the reaction that the students had to the performance, but ends up only allowing pre-approved songs that only have “Jesus or balloons in the title.”

Rachel and Finn grow closer as they practice, and end up kissing but Finn is a little premature and ends up running away.  Then we learn that Will’s wife is actually have a hysteric pregnancy because she wants a baby so much.  Finn’s girlfriend and two other cheerleaders audition for the glee club to come between Finn and Rachel (or as Finn’s girlfriend calls Rachel, ‘it’).  Sue uses this as a way to “infiltrate” the glee club.

I like Glee because it promotes doing what you love no matter what others think of you.  It points out some of the hierarchical structures of high school that everyone knows exists, but no one talks about a whole lot.  And it actually talks about things that people think but don’t really say out loud.  For example, when Rachel talks about how girls want sex just as much as guys in celibacy club.  The gym teacher at one point says: “they won’t fire me because I’m a minority.”

There are, of course, some problematic things.  Will’s wife barely does any work but pouts when she doesn’t get her exact way because of financial difficulties.  It just makes her seem like the whiny, irrational woman who doesn’t know how to handle money.  I have mixed feelings about the celibacy club.  I feel like it is supposed to be making fun of abstinence-only and promoting abstinence, but I don’t know if it gets it’s message across to as many people as they think it might.

I enoy the show because it’s not like other shows on network television.  It has musical numbers, which I think is great.  I think it is going to take me a little while to get more of an analysis down about it.  I’m still getting used to the show and getting a feel for its humor.  Next week I will hopefully have some deeper analysis about the specific episode.  My thoughts are kind of scattered tonight and I’m pretty tired right now.  But for now, what do you all think of Glee?

Ashley at Small Strokes asked me to write a guest post for her series on teaching feminism in schools. I decided to expand off of my previous post about silencing feminists in a school setting. Make sure you check out Ashely’s series, there is some great stuff going on over there! Here is what I wrote for the series:

One thing that I have been thinking a lot about lately is silencing. So when Ashley asked me to write a guest post for her teaching feminism in schools series, I thought I would write about the effect silencing has in a school setting.

Just one thing to remember: this is coming from the perspective of a student, not a teacher.

Feminism and women’s studies were not taught in my high school. We’d have a unit on women’s history, a unit on books written by women, etc. But those were usually some of the shortest units of the class and nothing was incorporated into the rest of the class. It just seemed like something the teachers wanted to get through because they had to, not something they were actually interested in.

The high school that I went to was overwhelmingly white, upper middle class, conservative, and Christian. I fit the mold in kin of two of these demographics. I’m white and middle class — but by the standards of my fellow classmates, I was on the lower middle class end of the spectrum, though not by society’s standards. I am not, however, conservative or that religious.

When I was in high school I definitely had feminist values, because that was the way that I was raised, but I don’t remember ever calling myself a feminist during that time. I think a lot of this had to do with my high school atmosphere and the people that I associate with. While the teachers claimed that the classroom was a “safe environment,” it wasn’t really true. Having an opinion that was different (and sometimes radically different) than most of the other people in the class was not an easy thing and the teachers didn’t really do a whole lot to encourage any type of discussion about it.

I really shouldn’t blame the teachers entirely. In high school, I wasn’t really the kind of person that raised their hand a lot. It wasn’t cool to be smart and it definitely wasn’t cool to have differing opinions. I didn’t really fit in anyway, but I was too shy to actually say anything in class. But I often wonder if my voice was encouraged to be heard more often, if I would have been more willing to share it. But there’s really no way of knowing.

Teaching feminism and women’s studies in high school comes with a lot of responsibility. I think it is a great idea and necessary to the development of well-rounded students that feminism and women’s studies be taught in middle school and high school. But where the responsibility comes in is making sure that you are discussing these topics in a truly safe environment for the students. It shouldn’t be about “preaching” your values as a teacher but about fostering discussion about these important issues.

Students who voice differing opinions are often silenced in a classroom setting, not only by fellow students out of peer pressure, but also sometimes from teachers. While teaching feminism and women’s studies, it is also important to teach about respect and practice respect yourself. It’s important to encourage all opinions, even anti-feminist ones if they are made in a respectful manner. Silencing opinions of students, whether you agree with them or not, is not what is going to build confident students who are ready for the “real world.” High schooler can be cruel, but when the silencing comes from teachers, I think it might be even more damaging.

The incorporation of feminism and women’s studies into the curriculum has to be done in a way that avoids silencing. I don’t really have any concrete ways of going about doing this because I am not familiar with teaching techniques. All I can say is try to be respectful and encourage respect in your students. Teaching feminism and women’s studies should be about fostering discussion and bringing awareness to feminist issues, not only in the lives of students but in society as well. Silencing students who are respectful in their opinions is not the way to go about doing this.

We’ve seen things like this before. But it’s always shocking to see new t-shirts released with sexually explicit phrases on them. And some of these new Hollister ones take the cake:

Who wouldn’t want to wear a sexually explicit message over their breasts?

I find all of these t-shirts offensive (“Girls just wanna have sun” is not as bad as the others though, but still…). Sexually explicit messages on t-shirts are just another way to further objectify women, and young women and teenagers at that.

According to Jezebel, Hollister calls these shirts “hot and funny.”

I don’t really see what’s funny about “Legal-ish”, “I [Heart] The Woody”, and “The twins are quite a handful”. Using a phrase like “Legal-ish” encourages the sexualization of teenagers through corporate male fantasies.

Hollister is marketed towards young teenagers. I do not think it is appropriate to market these sexually explicit shirts to teenagers. I think it’s fine for teens to express their sexuality, but not through “corporate male fantasies.” Because that’s what these shirts are. They are not about teens expressing their sexuality in a responsible way. They are about corporations promoting the over sexualization of teenagers for their own purposes.